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GWINNETT GRADS: Roby moves into starting role at Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes defensive back Bradley Roby (25) vs. University of Akron Zips at Ohio Stadium, September 3, 2011.  (Columbus Dispatch photo by Mike Munden)

Ohio State Buckeyes defensive back Bradley Roby (25) vs. University of Akron Zips at Ohio Stadium, September 3, 2011. (Columbus Dispatch photo by Mike Munden)

Bradley Roby got to travel with Ohio State's football team last season, but he was merely a spectator trying to soak up the atmosphere and learn what he could about the defense.

A speedy and highly touted prospect out of Peachtree Ridge, Roby couldn't crack into the powerhouse's lineup as a true freshman. For the first time in his career, he just watched, unlike his senior season of high school, when he rarely left the field as a standout wide receiver, defensive back and returner.

"It was different, it was definitely different for all of us coming from high school," Roby said. "We were used to being out there all the time and making plays, being a star."

A year later, Roby is back in the action as a redshirt freshman. After earning a starting cornerback position for the Buckeyes in fall camp, he has played well in his first four college games.

He intercepted a pass in an Ohio State (3-1) loss to Miami, and also has one pass breakup and two passes defended. He has 11 tackles, all solos.

"It was very exciting to get out there again," Roby said. "I was excited to play in front of a big crowd. I had been sitting out a whole year, so the first play I was a little nervous. But after that it was just football. I'm a football player, so it came back to me fast."

Fast is the word most often used to describe Roby. Consistently clocked in the 4.3-second range since high school, the 5-foot-11 cornerback also has boosted his weight up to 190 pounds. It's quite a gain for someone who played at 165 pounds in high school.

That said, his greatest improvements since high school may have been mental.

"There was a lot to learn on defense, we have a pretty complex defense," Roby said. "Just learning about what defense we're in, when we change our defense based on what the offense does. There was a lot of mental stuff to work on more than physical. It takes a lot of hard work and discipline. That's the main thing people don't know coming from high school, all the off the field stuff. All the meetings, the film work, the weight work. It's way more than you do in high school."

Roby, like his teammates, also has dealt with the tough off-the-field issues at Ohio State. The NCAA investigation into improper benefits to Terrelle Pryor and others. Head coach Jim Tressel leaving.

None of that was what Roby bargained for when he signed with the Buckeyes.

"We just try not to think about (the NCAA investigation)," said Roby, whose team hosts Michigan State today. "It has been tough. But we just focus on being a team and being together, supporting each other."

FOOTBALL

Quick hits

Brookwood grad Cameron Lynch, a true freshman linebacker at Syracuse, had eight tackles (six solos), a tackle for loss and a sack last Saturday in a 33-30 victory over Toledo. Greater Atlanta Christian's Colton Chapple threw two touchdown passes last Friday as Harvard defeated Ivy League rival Brown 24-7.

South Gwinnett grad Jonathan Krause caught nine passes for 55 yards in Vanderbilt's 21-3 loss to South Carolina last Saturday. The sophomore has a team-high 15 receptions this season. Clark-Atlanta back Anderson Davis, a Shiloh grad, had a 12-yard TD run and a 54-yard reception last weekend against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

SOCCER

Central's Sabina gets league honor

Central Gwinnett product Arielle Sabina received the first Gulf South Conference player of the week honor in Valdosta State's brief soccer history, earning defensive player of the week honors on Tuesday.

The junior scored the game-winning goal in the 95th minute of a 1-0 win over Christian Brothers and also anchored the defense in a 1-0 victory over Delta State.

Hammond, Piedmont

on a roll

With exceptional play from goalkeeper Marjorie Hammond, a Parkview grad, the Piedmont women's soccer team is off to a 10-0-1 start.

Hammond has 32 saves and a 0.29 goals-against average, the lowest GAA at this point of the season in Piedmont's NCAA era. She has allowed only three goals all season.

Buford's Justine Clay, Brookwood's Laura Goodwin and Kelsey Schaffernoth, Parkview's Sarah Hill, Grayson's Shayna Rogers and North Gwinnett's Macie Rooke also have started for Piedmont.

Clay (seven goals, two assists) and Goodwin (five goals, two assists), are the team's top offensive point-scorers.

West Georgia

relies on locals

West Georgia's women's team features a solid group of Gwinnett grads in the lineup, including leading scorer Jessica Young. The Collins Hill grad has three goals and an assist on the young season, ranking second on the team with seven points.

Anna Cusick (Norcross), Meg Sytsma (Peachtree Ridge), Daesha Brown (Collins Hill), Shannon MacLean (Collins Hill) and Cari Powell (Mill Creek) also have started for the team. Powell, a freshman, recently scored her first college goal against Delta State.

TRACK AND FIELD

Dacula's Penk gets

prestigious award

Georgia Tech track and field athlete Erica Penk, a Dacula grad, was one of the inaugural recipients of the 1A FAR Academic Excellence Award, established this year by the Faculty Athletics Representatives to honor academic excellence.

A total of 432 athletes nationwide got the award, which is given to athletes who graduated within the past year with a GPA of 3.80 or higher and who competed for at least two years in a Football Bowl Subdivision conference.

Penk, an All-ACC pole vaulter during her Tech career, graduated with a degree in computational media.

GOLF

Burger notches

top-10 finish

Georgia's Emilie Burger, a Mill Creek grad, tied for eighth overall in the competitive Mason Rudolph Fall Preview last weekend at The Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn.

She shot 75, 69 and 74 in the three-day event, where she finished ninth last season.

Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via email to will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com.